Celebrating Women for the Real World

Not JUST a Helicopter; Try An Apache!

SuZan and I have referred to certain parenting types as “Helicopter Moms or Dads”.  A Helicopter mom or dad is one who swoops down and fixes everything for their child.  They don’t ever let their child “fail”.  Typically a helicopter parent is the one who blames everyone but their child for the child’s mistake or down fall.  Usually, when their child is given a project, the helicopter parent swoops down and takes over and is usually the one staying up til 2 a.m. the day a project is due and is adding the finishing touches. 

As a parent, I can understand how parents would think this to be a good thing.  It’s not.  When we swoop down and fix everything, we rob our children of the right to make mistakes, then LEARN from those mistakes.  Guess what?  When we let our children think and do for themselves, it doesn’t always end in tragedy!  No!  Contrary to popular belief, our way isn’t the only way.

Unfortunately, the problem is getting worse.  Most parents aren’t only Helicopter parents, they are freaking Apaches!  I was volunteering for project prom.  For the majority of these parents, their senior is the oldest child.  They were sitting and talking about how “they checked Johnny’s grades on line and noticed a B.  A “B” for crying out loud!  That just wasn’t going to work.  So I called Johnny’s teacher and explained that Johnny was tired because he had baseball the night before and couldn’t the teacher possibly give him an extra credit question so that he doesn’t get a B?”

Sometimes I wish my mouth would acquire a horrible case of constipation.  Why?  Cause at times like this my mouth tends to have the squirts.  My response?  “So, are you going to email all of your child’s professor’s next year and make excuses when they don’t do their assignments?”

Yes.  That was harsh.  Unfortunately, the one woman looked at me and said “Yes”.  I asked her if she really believed that the professors would communicate with her about her child’s grades.  She said that as long as she’s paying the bills, they most certainly better!  In fact, SHE checked into all of the courses her child was going to take next year and researched each professor then registered her child for the courses that SHE (the parent) decided her child needed to take!  I then asked her if she’s going to call her child’s future boss to make sure her child is being treated right and doing his work.  Her response (which I hope she was being bitchy and not serious) “I sure will”.

People, please.  Let your children make mistakes and learn lessons from those mistakes.  It will make them a stronger adult.  An adult that will be making and voting on the laws that will effect us while we’re drooling in a nursing home.  My son told me he learned so much during his freshman year in college.  He added that most of what he learned was not academic!  See, that’s what the school years are supposed to do.  They are supposed to guide and shape our children to be competent adults.  Not perfect, but competent.  Confident enough to say “I screwed up, how do I fix it?” or, “I have an idea, let’s try this or that”.  That’s what I want for my children.

It’s not going to hurt Johnny to wear dirty cloths because he didn’t give you his uniform to wash (Youngest son had to sit the bench for an inning because the coach requires a clean uniform.  Guess what?  Next time he needed his uniform washed, he told me.  I showed him how to wash it so he won’t be able to blame me should this happen again).  It’s not going to hurt him to go to bed hungry because you didn’t buy him fast food (youngest son pulled this the other day.  It didn’t kill him to go to bed hungry AND he decided to eat what I cooked the next night).  It’s not going to hurt him to be kicked off the football team because he wasn’t passing.  (Yes, my Mr. Macho spent the last half of his sophomore year with his butt on the bench because I wouldn’t call his teachers and make excuses.  I told him if it was truly the teacher’s fault that he wasn’t passing that he needed to talk to the teacher.  If that didn’t work, he needed to talk to his counselor.  It must have worked.  He didn’t have a problem passing after that.  He also was the starting center for the varsity football team.  Never missed a game or practice.  Was it hard to watch him pay the price?  Yes.  Am I glad I did it?  Absolutely!)  Was it difficult to see a 70 on my daughter’s report card because she didn’t finish a paper and I refused to stay up until 2 a.m. to type it?  Yes.  Did she manage to be better organized for the next paper?  Sure was. 

Most of these examples are geared toward older kids.  But you get the idea.  Here’s one for the younger crowd.  When oldest son was 18 mos. old and walking, he would NOT stay out of the kitchen garbage.  We would put him in time out continually for getting into the garbage.  I NEVER moved the can out of his reach.  One day he was playing in the garbage and got jalapeno juice on his hands.  He then wiped his eyes!  OUCH.  Then he stuck his hand in his mouth as he was crying!  Double OUCH.  Guess what?  He learned a lesson!  He never played in the trash again!

Being a parent is tough.  Trust me.  I’m not the most popular parent on the block.  Of course they’ve learned not to say “Johnny’s parents let HIM do it!”  Why?  Because my response is, “See if they’re adopting!”


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  1. * Moi says:

    I helicoptered until my oldest was 4 … then I realized what I was doing was no good. While she still asks for help, she no longer expects that I will make it all better. She just expects a bit of clarification so she can continue on with her homework.

    I never really helicoptered for the youngest. It was more like med-evac … you know, finding the injured and carrying them to safety. That girl can create quite a path of destruction!

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 11 months ago
  2. * Moi says:

    Oh, and First (and second) Bitches!

    Eff you wordpress, my pace is delightful.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 11 months ago
  3. * Kat says:

    Wow. I can’t believe that mom did that and was serious. When I went to college, our parents were not allowed to help us register for classes – we were walked through the process during our orientation weekend. Oh, and I would have been HORRIFIED if my parents had ever called my professors – HORRIFIED.

    When I finally have kids – please feel free to shoot me down if I ever start helicoptering…

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 11 months ago
  4. * Karen says:

    You know, I don’t have any memory of either of my parents doing my homework or calling teachers if they thought I needed a better grade. They assumed I’d handle it. I have been fighting the urge to smother, especially this year, his Senior year. I keep thinking I’m not gonna be there at college and he needs to develop some common sense and problem solving. It is hard to see them screwing up but it’s all a part of growing up.

    Good for you.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 11 months ago
  5. * traci says:

    Oy. My 2nd child will graduate high school this year and I have to admit, I’m worried about her. I haven’t fixed anything for her and she is quite a little airhead. She seems to manage but it’s often with tears and late nights so I figure she (and me) are doing ok. When she was 9 or so, she made the mistake of telling me (and loudly) that the neighbors didn’t make their kids do the dishes…she is still appalled to talk about how I made her put her shoes on and then we went to each apartment in our complex, knocked on the door and proceeded to ask each and every parent and kid in the place if they were required to do chores. You’d have thought I killed her or something! Of course, every one of them was like “Of course they have to do chores!” and when they proceeded to list every one of them, she began to see how lucky she was! Kids…

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 11 months ago
  6. * Jill says:

    I LOVE IT TRACI – you actually went and knocked on doors, how awesome!!!!
    The sad thing is, the apache mom’s kid is going to end up in some very serious trouble one day! She is very mistaken they will not give her information. I actually read an article that employers are having the problem of parents going to interviews, etc with their kids…can you believe it? Not only do the kids need to grow up but we need our own lives!!!! I love being an empty nester and I look forward to the relationship being more friend than parent child.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 11 months ago
  7. * Kami says:

    Oh my. Calling the profs. Nice. That will go over real well. And that kid will really know how the real world works. Good grief.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 11 months ago
  8. * Lisa says:

    Great post! Helicopter parents drive me nuts. They really are not doing their kids any favors and they just don’t realize it. I work as a Career Counselor and first of all…it’s against the law for us to discuss grades with parents. These “kids” are adults and it matters not who is paying the bill, we can not release that information.
    I get phone calls all the time from parents saying “oh my Johnny just graduated and needs a job, what can you do to help him.?”
    My first response is always “well, first JOHNNY needs to contact me himself…” and then tell mom she can not come to the appointment with Johnny. Is she going to go to the interview with him? Last week we had to gently tell some mommy’s they could not come into the Employment fair with their kids. Unbelievable.

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 11 months ago
  9. * anita says:

    I went to college with a girl who would call home to ask permission to go out of the dorm other than for her classes. e.g. we were all taking a run to Mcd’s and she has to call mom and ask if it was ok…she dropped out halfway through the first semester with an emotional breakdown!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 11 months ago

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